Born on 5 May 1813, Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a Danish theologian, poet, author and a philosopher of existentialism. He wrote extensively on religion, morality, ethics, human psychology and religious philosophy. He focused on the importance of a single human being and his choices, and gave precedence to concrete truth over abstract thinking.
Søren Kierkegaard prolifically wrote in various forms and styles, covering a wide range of topics, from Christendom to philosophy to Aesthetics. He attempted an array of rhetorical methods, such as polemical, dialectical, humor, and satire et cetera, all exclusively penned down to deepen the understanding of the subject.
His works concerned with theology consists of his commentary on the organization of the Church, ethical teachings of Christianity, proofs of Christianity as a true religion, the qualitative difference between God and man, and a person’s personal connection to God. He was especially interested in the topic of love in Christianity, and sharply criticized linking the state with religion, especially in Denmark.
Apart from being a world class theologian, psychologist, poet, author, humorist, and a social theorist, he was mainly known as the Father of Existentialism. His philosophy revolves around Existentialism, a theory which suggests that a human being is completely free and has the capability of making his own choices as he wills.
Among other concepts, two of the most famous concepts by Kierkegaard are ‘subjectivity’ and the ‘leap of faith’. His idea of leap of faith is how a person believes in another person or in God, and how he acts irrationally in his belief. Blind trust can never come from evidence, as then you would be believing in the proof of that being, and not believing in the being itself. He said that believing in something is to doubt it at the same time. Part of our faith in God is the doubt of his existence, which is the rational response of our mind. It is this doubt which completes our trust in God, as with the absence of doubt in the face of evidence, our belief will remain not in God but in the proof of God.
In his philosophical Fragments, Kierkegaard focuses on the importance of an individual and his relation with the world at large. He believed in subjectivity being the truth, and in truth being subjectivity. Explaining his view, Kierkegaard says that every person knows the objective fact, but his subjective response to that fact constructs his exclusive truth. He mainly discussed religious subjectivity, and said that a person’s faith in his religion is obvious by his commitment to the religious doctrines, because if he believed them to be entirely true, he would act upon them without any hesitation.
Kierkegaard also delved into the psychology of anxiety and angst, linking it with religion. He believed that a person’s most important goal in life should be creating a self which has complete faith in God, as only faith will lead him to salvation. Thus this puts a responsibility on the individual, as his choices in life will only decide whether or not he will be salvated. Such a situation fills an individual with dread and angst at every decision he takes in life, as the freedom of choice exhilarates him, while the consequence of his decisions worries him.
Søren Kierkegaard passed away on the 11 November 1855. His work remained limited to Scandinavia, but the 20th century saw the revival of his philosophy, as it influenced the West everlastingly.